The Horror Honeys: Gerald's Game; or...

Gerald's Game; or...

A Kinkster’s Nightmare, A Survivor’s Nightmare, and A Cynophobic’s Nightmare Walk into a Stephen King Adaptation

All photos courtesy of Netflix

A New Release Review with Zombie Honey Bella

Gerald's Game (2017)

(there be spoilers here) 

Who knew that a painstakingly detailed degloving would be the least horrific element of Gerald’s Game?

Released on the heels of IT, another in Stephen King’s oeuvre, Gerald’s Game is a Netflix original that stays as faithful as it can to the original source material, and pulls no punches in punching you in the guts. If you’ve been living under a rock and you don’t know the plot of the Game here it is:

A couple goes on a weekend sex-a-way to a secluded lake house. Jess (Carla Gugino) isn’t as prepared for the naughtiness that her husband, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) has planned for them. And, while handcuffed to a bed, things turn from arousingly uncomfortable (hello rape fantasy) to downright unsettling (RIP Gerald) and a bit disorienting (hallucinations for everyone).

This is definitely not your Lifetime Network BDSM after-school special, kids. In fact, director Mike Flanagan (Hush, Oculus) makes sure to keep reminding you that you’re so far from a safe place that it’s hard for you to feel anything but panic from the moment Jess embraces her predicament.

Pro-tip: Don’t take viagra if you have a heart condition.

Hinging on a series of truly novice missteps (handcuff keys well out of reach, phone uncharged, no water) Jess’s comfort, and life, hang in the balance; all because of a lack of communication, lack of respect for consent, and lack of common sense. Luckily for Jess, she has the company of her id who guides her through memories that strengthen her resolve despite the company of Gerald’s smug spirit who is, well, smug.

Unfortunately for Jess, her id’s guide to safety brings with it, even more, horrors in the form of memories of daddy dearest deeply buried and blinded by an eclipse. Which, by the way, makes an appearance as flashes and breakthroughs throughout the entirety of Gerald’s Game; hinting not only at what is actually real but also dealing with that which is truly traumatic.

What’s more, and oh yes, there’s more, is the presence of the Moonlight Man whose appearance is not only deeply unsettling but also incredibly surreal. What part of Jess’s brain would imagine such a creature as this? Not to mention the ever-present company of a particularly disheveled dog, starved for… human flesh. It’s a dog-eat-man kind of movie.

All of these elements come together to create a movie that is truly disturbing and probably hits a little too close to home for a few of its viewers.

First: The idea that consent is a “given” in a marriage is a complete farce, especially when tackling the ever-delicate subject of rape fantasies. It’s called consensual non-consent for a reason, folks, precisely so these surprises don’t crop up and you aren’t left handcuffed to a bed talking to yourself about how blood is as slick as oil.

Second: With an estimated 42 million survivors of childhood molestation, coming face-to-face with a deeply buried memory, that you blacked out with the moon, is not an easy task. Even less easy when facing body failure due to dehydration; or in the audience’s case replacing their own memories with the reminder to breathe. Also, gaslighting is not a helpful tool when attempting an escape from handcuffs.

Third: Animal owners beware… they will eat you.

But, even all of that is not what makes Gerald’s Game such an effective film. Carla Gugino is an emoting, distressed Goddess who is all of us. Flanagan is no stranger to focusing his camera’s attention on the tormented in his movies, and Gugino plays directly into it. Her pain and disorientation are palpable. A lesser actress would have dropped the movie, but she carried it all the way through, never once allowing the audience to stop believing in her plight and panicking with her.

Without Gugino in front of the camera and Flanagan at the helm, this Game could have just been a victim’s tale. Instead, what we get from Gerald’s Game, is a survivor’s story. One steeped in the strength and perseverance of traumatized women, and men, to overcome, to rise up, and to slit the skin on their wrists and hands to slip out of handcuffs; all in spite of the failures of those meant to keep them from ever having to experience such horrors.

Zombie Honey Rating: 5 little blue pills out of 5